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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The real and the ideal -- a study of Henry James's use of art objects and art imagery in the delineation of character. Alder, Phyllis Kathleen

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to study Henry James's use of art objects and art imagery in the delineation of character. I have first endeavoured to briefly outline the basic concepts of art which James embraced and applied in his tales and novels, and have traced, in his literary and art criticism, his developing views of the "real," the "romantic," and the "ideal." James's change in attitude toward the "real" and the "romantic" has been noted in his own work published between 1876 and 1894, and the principal techniques of the painter which he employs have been set forth. In an analysis of three tales: "The Madonna of the Future," "The Liar," and "The Real Thing" I have attempted to illustrate James's view of the nature and function of art and the artist and the problems involved in achieving a satisfactory balance between the real and the ideal. The conclusions reached have been applied to two of James's major novels of his later phase: The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl in an attempt to demonstrate that, using the objet d'art and art imagery (as in the stories examined), James achieves reality of characterization and the complete realization of the ideal in the real.

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